She Asks IT, He Answers IT

Preventative Medicine: Keeping Your System Healthy & Protected


She Asks IT

I don’t have time for my computer to take a “sick day.”

I literally use my laptop all the time. I rely on it to perform business processes, everything from bookkeeping to marketing. I also use it to keep up with news and to store my important documents. It is a crucial part of my professional life.

And, with one click of my mouse, a virus could hospitalize, cripple or, even worse, kill my computer.

Viruses are everywhere, often disguised as posts or emails from friends or business associates. No place is safe. Not the internet. Not my inbox. Not even my Facebook wall.

“Wow! I can’t believe that you can see who is viewing your profile! I just saw my top 10 profile peekers and I am SHOCKED…You can also see who viewed your profile here:”

If you clicked, you just got a virus – and probably encouraged your entire Facebook friend list to catch it, too.

In addition to viruses, I am concerned about the security of my data. Ads on different websites can now not only point me back to a previous site that I visited, but show me rotating recommendations on products that I’ve recently viewed and others that might interest me.

That’s amazing – and scary.

So, what are some ways I can protect my computer from viruses? What are some other areas of security concern? And how can I effectively secure my data from spying eyes?

He Answers IT

There are no simple answers to these questions. Effective data protection and security require the use of a variety of tools and policies.

Viral infections create some of the most common security holes. Whatever anti-virus solution your company chooses, make sure it is up to date and running correctly on all systems.  Software makers, however, recognize that, now, viruses are not the only system attackers. Today, a more robust and complete solution is not only preferable, it is necessary. Businesses need solutions that protect against viruses and spyware and also: (1) block malicious content on the web and in email, (2) prevent access to web content by categories, and (3) intercept spam. There are quality, affordable solutions that do all those things and more.

In addition, data security in a small business must go further to be considered “complete.” A good network perimeter firewall will inspect all data coming into and leaving your local network. It will also deny any unwanted traffic. These devices enable you to comprehensively control who and what are allowed on your network.

Patch management is another facet of data security that should not be overlooked. In simple terms, this means keeping all software up-to-date. “All software” means not just Windows Updates, but actual operating system upgrades and application updates. These contain critical fixes that increase security by plugging application security holes and patching vulnerabilities. Patch management requires the most attention of the three security areas we have discussed, but can pay off big. In addition to patching software vulnerabilities, it will also solve many other compatibility issues that crop up in a computing system.

One last caveat: your particular business determines your required security level. For instance, health providers require more stringent security measures. So do businesses that accept credit cards. The ways personal patient data and credit card information are used and stored create special security concerns. So, the short list of security items I have provided is by no means a complete one that will prove satisfactory for everyone.  It is, however, a pretty good starter checklist which many businesses have not completed.

It does no good to only lock three doors of a four-door car. If you securely lock three doors, make sure you take time to reach over and lock the forth. Your business will be better off if you mind the basics of network security. They will keep you safe and running efficiently without a malicious payload hitching an uninvited ride.